Washington: President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan with a flourish Tuesday, releasing a proposal that would give Israel most of what it has sought over decades of conflict while offering the Palestinians the possibility of a state with limited sovereignty.
Trump's plan would guarantee that Israel would control a unified Jerusalem as its capital and not require it to uproot any of the settlements in the West Bank that have provoked Palestinian outrage and alienated much of the world. Trump promised to provide $50 billion in international investment to build the new Palestinian entity and open an embassy in its new state.
"My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel's security," the president said at a White House ceremony that demonstrated the one-sided state of affairs: Trump was flanked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel but no counterpart from the Palestinian leadership, which is not on speaking terms with the Trump administration.
The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, immediately denounced the plan as a "conspiracy deal" unworthy of serious consideration, making the decadeslong pursuit of a "two state solution" appear more distant than ever.
As part of the proposal, Israel agreed to limit its settlement construction in a four-year "land freeze," during which Palestinian leaders can reconsider whether to engage in talks with Israel.
But before returning to Israel on Tuesday, Netanyahu told reporters that he would ask his Cabinet to vote Sunday on a unilateral annexation of the strategically important Jordan River Valley and all Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
Nearly three years in the making, the plan was a sharp turn in the U.S. approach, dropping decades of support for only modest adjustments to Israeli borders drawn in 1967 and discarding the longtime goal of granting the Palestinians a wholly autonomous state.
The proposal imagines new Israeli borders that cut deep into the West Bank and what Netanyahu has previously described as a Palestinian "state-minus," lacking a military capable of threatening Israel. The White House called it "a demilitarized Palestinian state" with Israel retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan River, although over time the Palestinians would assume more of that responsibility.